Conservationists are looking to release a herd of European Bison into the UK, Blean woods near Canterbury – first in 6000 years

European Bison (or close relatives) were once an important part of the UK fauna, as the largest UK mammal, they had the strength to push down trees and therefore had an important role of ecosystem engineer.

The project is aimed at starting by reintroducing these animals into Blean woods near Canterbury. I have walked in Blean woods a number of times, as it is close to where my father works some of the year. Only a small herd will live in this wood (alongside iron age pigs, longhorn cattle and exmoor ponies) but these 4 species are likely to have a great deal of impact on the woodland.

For the time being, the Bison will live in a 150 hectare enclosure, with no footpaths, never the less the hope is that descendants of these pioneers could be released into truly wild parts of the UK.

Admittedly, the European Bison probably never lived in the UK, but the steppe bison an incredibly similar animal did.

A major part of the rangers job will be to take people on walks in the enclosure. This will help people get used to the idea. After all, there are currently no wild animals in the UK that weigh anywhere near the tonne that these animals would weigh.

These gentle giants would do wonders for the British ecosystem, and I for one look forwards to the time when seeing European Bison is like spotting highland ponies or wild horses in different parts of the country.

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